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Best Things to Do in North Park San Diego

Looking for the best things to do in North Park San Diego? Here’s a guide to our neighborhood.

When we lived in North Park, people used to call the “young hipster” neighborhood of San Diego. When deciding to move to San Diego, we debated between a roomier place in the burbs or a smaller but more walkable neighborhood. One of our friends mentioned that North Park seemed like the perfect fit for us, and since we have always lived in the burbs, we wanted to try it out for size.

We’ve enjoyed our time in North Park. It was easy to meet friends visiting San Diego in our neighborhood since they loved exploring our area. Since we’re no longer physically here to show you around, we put together a guide to our old stomping grounds.

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Last Updated: March 12, 2024

Best Things to Do in North Park San Diego

North Park was named “best beer neighborhood in the nation,” Every time we visit, there’s always a new place to eat and grab a beer. It’s amazing how much it has changed even within the one year we lived here.

Note: On our most recent visit, we saw that post-pandemic North Park isn’t as lively on weekdays as it used to be, but there are still great bars, shops, and food here. We’ll continue to modify and add to this list, so check the date it was last updated.

See More: Ultimate San Diego Bucket List

Best North Park Restaurants San Diego

  • Breakfast Republic – We hear many great things about this place, but we haven’t gone yet because it’s always packed.
  • Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream – If you have difficulty deciding what kind of ice cream you like, this will be your favorite place. You can get a flight of mini-cones with multiple flavors.
  • Luche Libre Taco Shop —Although we’re not huge fans of this place, I included it because everyone raves about the tacos and burritos there. The original location may be better. If you’ve tried both, let us know!
  • Urbn Pizza — This local pizza chain offers unique pies and a great selection of drinks. Although it’s not an everyday eatery for us, we enjoyed their mashed potato pizza. The weird combo somehow works.
  • North Park Farmer’s Market – It’s a smaller farmer’s market, but we’re excited that it recently moved down the street to a better location.

We’re sad to see many places shut down over the pandemic. When we visited this year, we checked out more coffee shops than restaurants. Next time we need to try Encontro, Tabu Shabu (original location is in Costa Mesa), and Working Class.

32 Flavor Ice Cream Flight at Hammonds Gourmet Ice Cream North Park San Diego.

Best Coffee Shops in North Park San Diego

  • Communal Coffee—Many people say Communal is the best coffee shop in North Park. It is a lovely space to work in. I haven’t returned since I started making espresso at home, so now I must try a cortado here.
  • Dark Horse Coffee Roasters – Delicious coffee we usually grab on the go.
  • Holsem Coffee – If I were to work at a coffee shop, this would be my second home. I usually order the Nutella cold brew.
  • Lovesong Coffee + Market – This was the busiest coffee shop in the neighborhood. So many people were working from here. I tried the Flower Child, a rosemary and lavender espresso drink.

See More: How to Get Started as a Home Barista

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Best Bars and Breweries in North Park San Diego

  • Belching Beaver – We’ve been once, but I wouldn’t mind going again. Many people talk about their peanut butter stout, but I preferred the horchata imperial stout.
  • Bottlecraft — A massive selection of beer to take home, friendly staff, and an in-house cheese shop make this the perfect stop. They also have a tasting bar if you’d like to drink there.
  • Mike Hess Brewing – local brewery with good beer and ample space to hang out, but it has been packed every time we’ve gone.
  • Modern Times Flavordome – Another local staple, Modern Times serves delicious beers. They have multiple tasting rooms in San Diego, and this one is themed after movies.

We don’t drink as much beer as we used to, so we still need to visit the following breweries on our next visit: Fall Brewing CoPoor House Brewing, North Park Beer CoOriginal 40 Brewing, and Thorn Brewing.

See More: 8 Best Breweries in San Diego

Shopping in North Park San Diego

  • Pigment – This store looks straight from Pinterest or Instagram (see our other San Diego photo spots). I can’t help but pop in whenever I’m nearby to see what’s new. My favorite part of their store is the succulent station where you can build your own DIY terrarium.
  • Verbatim Books – San Diego’s largest independent bookstore.

See More: Best Things to Do in South Park San Diego

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Photo Spots and Murals in North Park San Diego

  • Artelexia – You Are Radiant Mural
  • Holy Matcha – The matcha drinks are not the best, but I liked their cute shop and bathroom.
  • Greetings from San Diego Mural by the Greetings Tour.
  • Pigment – the entire store is photogenic.
  • Verbatim Books Mural – find it outside the bookstore.
  • North Park Sign – many San Diego neighborhoods have unique signage welcoming you to the area.

See More: Most Popular Instagram Spots in San Diego


Music Venues in North Park

  • The Irenic – We saw Delta Spirit at this venue and loved the show! It’s a church during business hours but converts to a music venue when shows come through. We love the intimate size of this venue, where you can get closer to up-and-coming artists. Unfortunately, this venue is now closed but hopefully, something else pops up here.
  • Observatory North Park (or North Park Theatre) – We haven’t been, but we’ve had friends attend shows here. They have some big names come through, but we’ve also read many reviews that the sound isn’t good and that the bouncers and staff are rude.
  • The Merrow – Bar and music venue.

Other Popular Spots That Were Just Okay

  • Underbelly — This is a popular ramen spot that I wouldn’t return to, but if you don’t want to venture into the Asian part of town, you don’t have many options. Also, the Asian food scene isn’t all that great in San Diego, so we recommend exploring other cuisines here.
  • City Tacos – We didn’t understand the hype, but it continues to have great reviews on Yelp.
  • Swami’s Cafe North Park – A popular healthy eats place but wasn’t our favorite.

Permanently CLosed

  • Aloha Beach Club – This shop captured the Cali surfer vibe.
  • Altitude Brewing
  • Atypical Waffle (formerly Wow Wow Waffle Lemonade) – It’s temporarily closed. A popular street cart serving Belgian waffles with sweet and savory toppings.
  • Geographie – This shop had quality pieces from artisans locally and globally.
  • Heaven Sent Desserts – We’re not big into cake, but our friends loved this place.
  • Mimi & Red – moved to the Pacific Beach neighborhood. I don’t shop for clothes much, but I bought a hat from this boutique very early on when we moved here and have been wearing it a lot since.
  • Porchetta Shack (formerly Carnita’s Snack Shack) was one of our go-to spots for guests in town. The pork belly had long lines, but we heard it went downhill after it rebranded.
  • Rip Current – sold to North County craft beer and taco outlet in December 2023 and closed their North Park tasting room. We frequented this spot since it was so close to our place. We liked their beer and flights served on a mini surfboard.
  • Roleur Brewing Co
  • Tiger! Tiger! – This local hotspot did not reopen after the pandemic.
  • Urban Solace – This well-known spot in North Park closed its brick-and-mortar restaurant and switched to catering.
  • Waypoint Public – This restaurant had good food, an open-air dining area, and a great beer selection.
  • Young Hickory—This shop was also a great place to get coffee and work, especially during the few hot weeks of the year. Many apartments don’t have AC (ours didn’t), so we headed here when it was too hot to work from home.

Map of North Park to Help You Get Around

Frequently Asked Questions

How big is North Park San Diego?

North Park covers approximately 4.7 square miles.

Is North Park San Diego safe?

North Park San Diego is generally considered a safe neighborhood. Like any urban area, it’s essential to stay aware of your surroundings and take necessary precautions.

Is North Park San Diego walkable?

North Park is known for its walkability. Many amenities, including restaurants, bars, shops, and parks, are within walking distance for residents.

How far is North Park San Diego from the beach?

North Park is located a few miles inland from the coast, so it’s typically around a 15-20 minute drive to reach the nearest beaches like Mission Beach or Pacific Beach.

What type of neighborhood is North Park?

Yes, volunteers are essential to the event. Volunteers have to available for the entire Balloon Fiesta and take at least three shifts. In exchange, they get free parking and entrance along with some other benefits.

What is it like living in North Park San Diego?

North Park is a diverse and eclectic neighborhood known for its historic Craftsman homes, vibrant arts scene, and diverse population. It’s a mix of residential and commercial areas, with a thriving culinary and nightlife scene.

What is the history of North Park San Diego?

We loved living in North Park. There was plenty to do within walking distance and it was a popular neighborhood to hang out, so we had visitors all the time.

What is the demographics of North Park San Diego?

North Park has a diverse population, including a mix of ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds. It attracts people from various age groups and lifestyles.

What is the average income in North Park San Diego?

As of January 2022, the average household income in North Park San Diego was around $60,000 to $70,000 per year.

Where to Stay in North Park

Planning Checklist

Are there more things to do in North Park San Diego that we missed? When you visit a new city, what neighborhoods do you like to explore?

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Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.

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